MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin has now recorded more than 10,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, a grim number as the state and the country face a surge in coronavirus cases over the holidays.
There are two ways to track the COVID-19 death toll. One way is by probable COVID-19 deaths. Wisconsin passed 10,000 probable deaths earlier this month. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services defines a probable death as a person with a probable case of COVID-19 who died from causes related to the virus, or when a person's death certification identifies COVID-19 as a cause or significant contributing factor. But there is no laboratory test confirming a positive case.
The other way is confirmed deaths, which is when a lab test confirmed the person died from complications caused by the coronavirus. Wisconsin passed 10,000 deaths in this metric on Wednesday, according to the DHS' COVID-19 dashboard.
The DHS tracks both probable and confirmed deaths in the state on its website, as do many state health departments. Metrics vary on some national news websites, which may just rely on probable deaths. But health officials say the true death toll is higher compared to numbers in both metrics.
Wisconsin is also nearing the milestone of 1 million total cases of confirmed COVID-19 recorded in the state since the pandemic began. DHS reports the state has recorded 980,000 nearly cases of COVID-19 so far.
Meanwhile the Wisconsin Hospital Association reports more than 1,700 hospital beds are currently in use, and 400 ICU beds are full.
In Milwaukee County, 434 people are in the hospital with complications caused by COVID-19, according to the county dashboard.
State health officials and medical providers have been warning for weeks that hospitals are already at or near capacity for patients.